How Bollywood fans ink their love for their favourite stars

Jul 20, 2014, 08:00 IST | Asira Tarannum

Shah Rukh Khan on the back and John Abraham on the arm. Some star-struck fans get themselves inked as the ultimate form of devotion towards their screen idols

What was earlier a veritable part of tradition, has today become a style statement. Tattoos are a rage — for confirmation, one need not look any further than die-hard Bollywood fans, who get portraits of their idols inked on their bodies. Fans are also keen on replicating a tattoo their favourite celebrities have.

Shah Rukh Khan

Showing love
Jaipur businessman and tattoo artiste Vishal Gidwani got the visage of Raghu Ram (of reality show Roadies fame) inked on his body. While talking about his decision to get inked, Gidwani says that the tattoo is a matter of pride for him. “I love him and respect him. This was the best way I could show my dedication to him,” says Vishal.

Paramveer Kaur Supra got SRK’s picture tattooed on her back
Paramveer Kaur Supra got SRK’s picture tattooed on her back

The artist behind the
tattoo, Yatish Gautam from Pinkinktattoos in Jaipur, says, “Vishal is a huge fan of Raghu Ram. He got the Roadies tattooed earlier and even calls himself a Roadie.”

Akshay Goswami  from Indore has singer Hariharan’s picture tattooed on his chest
Akshay Goswami  from Indore has singer Hariharan’s picture tattooed on his chest

“This is the first time I have made a portrait of a Bollywood celebrity. It is common for people to get their loved ones’ and spouses’ picture tattooed, but this was a unique gesture,” he adds.

Another fan got Michael Jackson’s portrait inked
Another fan got Michael Jackson’s portrait inked

Big B fan
Harish Tahiliani, another businessman from Jaipur, wants to get a tattoo of Amitabh Bachchan on his arm. He says, “I think I am his biggest fan. I have decided to get a permanent tattoo of his picture on my arm,” he says.

Sachin Tendulkar’s fan got his signature tattooed
Sachin Tendulkar’s fan got his signature tattooed

A client recently requested tattoo artist Vikas Malani, from Body Canvas in Mumbai, for a tattoo similar to the one on Prachi Desai’s midriff in her item number in Ek Villain. “I also get several requests for tattoos similar to Priyanka Chopra’s ‘Daddy’s L’il girl’ tattoo and Deepika Padukone’s ‘RK’ tattoo. There are also requests for tattoos similar to Arjun Rampal’s, where he has his daughters’ names, Mihika and Myra, inked on his arms. There are requests for Ajay Devgn’s Shiva tattoo, as well,” explains Malani.

Vishal Gidwani from Jaipur got  Raghu Ram’s picture tattooed on his arm
Vishal Gidwani from Jaipur got  Raghu Ram’s picture tattooed on his arm

Meeting point
Lucky Khan from Angel Tattoo Studio in Indore created a tattoo of John Abraham for a college student, who was huge fan of the actor. Interestingly, the owner of a tea stall got the tattoo of singer Hariharan inked on his body. Lucky says, “Hariharan was coming to Indore and the client was desperate to meet him. He thought that getting a tattoo of the singer was the best way to meet him and I made the tattoo for him, for free,” remembers Khan. “When the security guard at the hotel stopped him, he showed his tattoo and they informed Hariharan, who then came to meet him,” he adds.

The tattoo, flaunted by Prachi Desai in Ek Villain (right), which was copied by a fan
The tattoo, flaunted by Prachi Desai in Ek Villain (above), which was copied by a fan

Cost factor
So, how expensive are these ‘celebrity’ tattoos?

Girish Makhija, from Body Canvas, says, “People happily spend on tattoos. Although there is no fixed age group, youngsters between the ages of 15-25 are more keen on getting pictures and portraits of celebrities inked on their bodies. Depending on the size, a tattoo can cost anywhere between R5,000 and lakhs of rupees. It also depends on how intricate the tattoo design is. However, there are customers who come from abroad and get tattoos done at dirt cheap prices here,” he explains.


Swapnil Gawde of Tattoostar Collective in Mumbai says, “The demand for portrait tattoos is increasing. Tattoo portraits are costly so students prefer to get a copy of their favourite celebrity’s tattoo inked on their bodies. The price depends on the size and design of the tattoo. Many aspiring dancers come to get Michael Jackson’s portrait tattooed. A year ago, a fan got Sanjay Dutt’s portrait inked.”

Sanjay Dutt
A Sanjay Dutt fanatic got his picture tattooed on his arm

Who is getting inked?
Nikhil Bhanushali of Ace Tattooz in Mumbai says, “Often youngsters get inked, but now people between the ages of 30 and 40 also opt for it. Fans, irrespective of age, think the best form of expressing their love for a celebrity is by getting inked,” explains Nikhil. “Earlier people used to opt for small tattoos but now die-hard fans choose large designs. A few also look at it as a means to meet their favourite celebrities.”

Shweta Anugreh from Indore got John Abraham’s picture tattooed on her arm
Shweta Anugreh from Indore got John Abraham’s picture tattooed on her arm

Growing trend
Ketan Saindane aka Ketology of Inkholics Tattoo Studio in Mumbai says, “When I first started out, getting a tattoo done was hardly a trend. The first portrait tattoo I created was of Sanjay Dutt and then Salman Khan. The trend is now here to stay," says Saindane. “Next week, I will tattoo the portrait of tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. People feel quite emotional about getting an idol or mentor’s portrait inked,” he adds.

A fan’s Salman Khan tattoo
A fan’s Salman Khan tattoo

Same mark
Greesh Bhambhani of Aalim’s Tattoo Studio in Mumbai recently recreated Arjun Kapoor’s ‘Ma’ tattoo for clients. He says, “I haven’t designed any celebrity portraits till now, but after Arjun got the ‘Ma’ tattoo inked on his body recently, many people got the same tattoo done.”

“A guy also got Sachin Tendulkar’s signature tattooed on his hand,” continues Bhambhani. “This is a trend now as people are more aware and sure of what they want. They also consult tattoo artistes on the kind of tattoo they should opt for,” he adds.

Al Alva of Al’s Tattoo Studio in Mumbai, who made a tattoo of Shah Rukh Khan’s portrait for a fan, says, “Fans are now willing to go a step ahead to show their love and affection for Bollywood celebrities,” she says. “Paramveer had come from abroad to get the SRK tattoo. Similarly, there is a Nashik-based guy who wants a portrait of Sanjay Dutt made. He also dresses like the actor and is specially coming to Mumbai to get the tattoo,” she concludes.

In the past
The art of tattoos can be traced back to 5,000 years. Tribals got tattoos done on their bodies for various reasons. The tattoos would denote the tribe they belonged to or were used to ward off evil spirits. Tattoos were also made using henna. This was usually applied to women. It was known as henna tattoo. The demand for henna tattoos has dropped nowadays. 

What celebrities say about star tattoos

I don’t think fans should get tattoos done of stars. You should not get anything done which is permanent on your body — whether it is my face or anybody else’s. I feel it should not be done at all
Salman Khan
— Salman khan

I am humbled and touched that a fan got my picture tattooed on her arm
John Abraham
— John Abraham

I was shocked when I heard about this guy who got my face tattooed. There have been instances where people have named their kids ‘Roadies’ or ‘Raghu’. People do a lot to express their love.

Raghu Ram

I wish that I remain the person he respects. I wish he had found a simpler way to express his feelings, but I appreciate it. I will be flattered someday, but right now, it’s shocking. All I would say to him is, “Respect, brother!” Interestingly, in my team, Jonas aka Rambo Romance has the picture of Rambo tattooed on his body, but to see my picture on someone’s body is different.
— Raghu Ram

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